Assembly Bill Would Make English Learners Eligible for Child Care Assistance

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry Introduces Bill to Make English Learners Eligible for Child Care Assistance

(From Press Release) Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters) introduced AB 273 last week in order to help Californians pursuing English-language education or a High School Equivalency certificate receive state assistance for childcare services.

Both English language learning and high school education are keys to job training, as well as educational and employment opportunities in California. They are essential in transitioning from public assistance programs to work sufficient to support a family. This hurdle is further exacerbated by the fact that English language and adult learners with children must deal with the increasingly high costs of childcare services.

“If you can’t learn English, you can’t finish your GED, enter job training, or pursue higher education.  If you can’t afford child care, you can’t get to your classes. This bill will help people who want to work take the first steps to get the training they need.”

Currently, English language and adult learners with children do not qualify for federal and state subsidized child development services under the Educational Code, such as childcare and preschool.

Childcare services are a growing burden on the budgets of families in California. According to a 2015 report by the California Budget & Policy Center, the average single mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of childcare. It is well documented that a mother’s level of education has important consequences for children. In addition, over 25 percent of California immigrants live in households where no one over the age of thirteen speaks English well.

“Helping people who want to work just makes sense for them and for California,” said Aguiar-Curry. “With the recent debate in our country over immigrants’ rights and the struggle people are having finding employment, I wanted my first bill to be one that would empower Californians to get the education needed to find a job.”

The bill is coauthored by Assemblymembers Caballero (D – Salinas) and Gloria (D – San Diego), and Senator Mendoza (D – Artesia), and currently awaits referral to its first policy committee.

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry represents California’s 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Colusa, Lake, Napa and Yolo Counties, Dixon in Solano County and Rohnert Park in Sonoma County.

AB 273 – Subsidized Child Care Eligibility Criteria – Face Sheet


In order to be eligible for state subsidized child care, families are required to meet eligibility requirements for income and need.

AB 273 clarifies English as a Second Language (ESL) classes as an acceptable type of training course for families to qualify for child care eligibility under Title V funded programs.


California’s Educational Code states that families who meet certain requirements are eligible for federal and state subsidized child development services, such as child care and preschool. The requirements to qualify are based on criteria including income and need of the family

Under existing law, parents that meet income criteria and are engaged in vocational training courses leading directly to a trade or profession are eligible for state supported child care services. However, courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or High School Equivalency Certificate (HSE) do not qualify as a type of vocational training.

Parents that are taking classes to improve their English language proficiency or working to earn their HSE certificate are taking foundational steps needed to enter vocational training, but currently do not qualify for subsidized child care for their children

Many families require state supported child care services in order to continue with their education and work towards a profession. Costly child care services may prove burdensome for lower income families, disproportionately impacting single mothers and women of color.

According to the California Budget & Policy Center, in 2015, the average single-mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of child care.

EdSource, a policy and research nonprofit, reports that a lack of access to quality early learning experiences not only widens the achievement gap for children of color, but also contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Additionally, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports that 29% of immigrants in California live in households where no one older than age 13 speaks English “very well.” Among immigrants with less than high school diplomas, 67% speak English “not at all” or “not well.”

It is well documented that individuals who are proficient in English have higher occupational mobility, with better job prospects and the opportunity to earn higher wages. Parents are also better prepared to support their children as they enter the K-12 system.

Allowing greater access to state child care services for those enrolled in ESL and GED courses promises increased socioeconomic mobility for both parents and their children.


AB 273 would add ESL and HSE educational programs to the list of eligibility criteria for state subsidized child development services under the California Educational Code.

This bill does not propose to add any additional slots into the child care system. It simply expands the criteria by which a family can qualify to apply.

This change will empower parents to increase their educational level by providing families with greater access to subsidized child care services. It is often challenging for families who are non-native English speakers to access medical services, educational support within school systems, and social services, despite laws that require interpretation. Investing in families as a whole helps reduce poverty and the associated effects on childhood development.

AB 273 would give low-income families greater access to subsidized childcare services by adding enrollment in English as a Second Language (ESL) and High School Equivalency (HSE) Certification Preparation courses to the existing eligibility requirements.

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  1. Tia Will

    This is a great first step by Aquiar-Curry. I applaud her putting an issue that will strengthen California families and improve opportunities for our children first on her agenda.

  2. Tia Will


    I hope not. If these people are here with their children we have a responsibility to help with the education of those children. It is well documented that one primary driver of a child’s language acquisition skills is the amount the mother talks to the child and her language proficiency. Residents of all groups need these skills whether or not they are citizens.

    1. Keith O

      So when someone sneaks into our country with their children we have the responsibility to pay for their children’s free daycare too along with all of the other goodies that they can sponge off of our system?  It gets mighty expensive.

      1. David Greenwald

        Keith: “So I take it citizenship won’t be required in order to qualify for this program?”

        Tia: “I hope not.”

        Keith: “So when someone sneaks into our country with their children we have the responsibility to pay…”

        Hold on there. We have not established that the program covers non-citizen residents, although it does not appear exclusive. But that’s still a long way off from the program covering non-legal residents, what evidence do you have to substantiate that?

      2. Don Shor

        There are millions of immigrants in this country. The overwhelming majority are here legally. They aren’t citizens, but they are living and working here.
        Many who are here illegally did not “sneak into our country.” They came here legally and overstayed their visas.
        A large percentage have limited English proficiency.
        Improving their English proficiency enhances their job prospects, increasing the likelihood that they will pay more taxes and use fewer social services.
        In short, it’s a good investment for us, regardless of whether they are legal or illegal.

          1. Don Shor

            Why? This article is not about illegal immigrants. It is about providing services to immigrants. The majority of immigrants are not here illegally.

        1. Howard P

          Keith… did you ever forget to renew your driver’s license?  Did once… got pulled over for a ‘rolling stop’… my license expired the day before… with kids, work, etc., both my birthday and license status slipped my mind… got a warning, renewed the next day…

          1. Don Shor

            Yes it does. It has to do with your assumption that immigrants are illegal, and your assertion about what makes them illegal.
            The topic of the article was legislation that would help immigrants with limited English proficiency get child care so they could improve their English. You chose to make it about whether or not those immigrants were citizens, and whether they are legal.

        2. Howard P

          Keith… over-staying a visa can be exactly like an expired DL… there probably are egregious examples for grossly over-staying a visa… as I understand it, often over-staying a visa by 48 hours, without renewing/getting extension, causes the same administrative problems as if it is over-stayed for months… but admit am not an expert in that field…

        3. Keith O

          No, I chose to make it about does this proposed new law apply to illegals and us not paying for more services for illegal immigrants.  It has nothing to do with a legal citizen’s license expiring.

        4. Howard P

          Uh, Keith, you equated over-staying a validly issued visa (legal, non-citizen) with being an illegal immigrant…  [your 7:41 post] [which was the basis for my DL analogy]

  3. wdf1

    This is a policy that can cut across party interests.

    If it is the policy of California public schools to accept all children, regardless of immigration status, then we should be interested in parents have more agency to help their children in school.  English proficiency is key.

    If you believe in a policy of English being the official language, you should want all adults speaking English with some proficiency.

    If you are concerned that immigrants are not assimilating appropriately, learning English certainly would help.

    If you believe in immigrants becoming citizens, learning English will help that process.

    Just a few perspectives.

  4. David Greenwald

    Answer from Assembly Aguiar-Curry’s office: “The program AB 273 expands on operates under Title V programs. Under current law, the parent or guardian’s legal status does not impact eligibility for Title V, CSPP, or CAPP programs.”

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